As we celebrate our Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and her 70 year reign this weekend we look to show appreciation for the queen of nature: the queen bee. These queen's lead their hives by producing chemical scents which help regulate the unity of the colony and they also lay a lot of eggs, helping keep the bee species alive.
But why are bees so important?
Bees are vital for both humans and our planet. For most people bees are best known for the delicious honey they produce, which as well as tasting delicious can be used in medicine due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. However, bees play a much more important role for humans than just making honey, they are essential in producing food for us.
Bees are pollinators which means they help plants grow, breed and produce food. According to API.cultural they pollinate over 66% of the world's crops and contribute to ⅓ of the food we eat, which means they are indispensable in fruit, vegetable and nut production But they are also an essential element in meat and dairy production as livestock and reared on food that contains plant products such as alfalfa which is pollinated by bees.
Without bees, pollination for food production would be much slower, harder and more expensive as farmers would have to manually pollinate their crops, and there is even a chance that shelves could be empty and we would go hungry.
As well as being crucial for humans, bees are also important for the environment. Bees use the hair on their bodies to carry large grains of pollen between plants which helps plants reproduce. Honey bees in particular are the most efficient pollinator species in the world, and according flyingflowers they can visit over 1500 flowers a day which helps keep trees and flowers alive and flourishing. If bees disappeared many plants would die too and this would lead to habitat loss and subsequently species loss.
But if bees are so important, why are they disappearing?
To put it plainly, bees are disappearing because of humans, the biggest causes of bee decline are:
- habitat loss
- climate change.
With invasive farming and increasing urbanity we destroy meadows and forests which are necessary for bees survival. The current rate of deforestation is 160,000 square kilometers a year which equates to a loss of around 1% of original forests a year.
Climate change, caused by our greenhouse gas emissions, leads to weather extremes which delicate bees hives cannot withstand. The dramatic temperature changes in seasons can confuse normal pollination and reproduction patterns
An increased use of pesticides also leads to bee loss as even if the pesticide is not intended to harm bees they absorb the chemicals from the plants that have been treated and it can lead to developmental problems, death and colony collapse. According to Business Insider, the bee species in the UK, Denmark and North America has dropped from 6.5 million in 1947 to only 2.5 million in 2019.
this Queen’s Jubilee look to celebrate Queen Bee’s too by actively doing something to help protect them.
Three things to help save the bees.
- Plant some bee friendly flowers such as lavender and honeysuckle.
- Stop using pesticides in your own garden. Pesticides can be replaced with natural alternatives such as garlic or salt spray
- Let your garden get messy, skip mowing the lawn for a weekend, long grass and even weeds are a great source of forage for bees
- Leave part of your lawn or garden to grow wild
So as we celebrate the Queen of Queens and everything she’s done to serve her country, we should take the time to remember the many millions of other Queens who protect our planet every day.